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The King’s Avatar
January 8, 2016
Status: --
Hands down the best MMO story I've ever read. What makes The King's Avatar stand out are:

1) the level of realism - this isn't a vague fantasy genre meshed into the form of an MMO, these are real people playing a game, and the blend of RL and game life, the player interactions, World Chat, etc. really bring out the flavor of watching an MMO.

2) The insane level of detail - this author is amazing. No other story has this much focus on the reality of pro gaming,... more>> which includes physical skill, game knowledge, the ability to strategize and use that knowledge to their fullest advantage... Either the author himself used to be a pro gamer or he has top tier researching skills, but as a casual MMO player I recognize that even imagining these situations goes way above my grade. Recognizing an actual skill gap between myself and the MC - and not just "the MC picked up some magic stuff and became amazing through vaguely described training" - stirs up a ton of admiration not only for the characters but for the author as well.

3) The amazing, lively characters. All of them have enormous personalities. There are a ton of side characters that are hilarious or awesome and that I want to see more of because I know they'll be fun to read about. This is the opposite of most LNs who have disposable, flat, just-there-to-be-puppet side characters, or LNs who have side characters with tons of potential but are never developed (CD, I love ya but you toss out amazing side characters like tissues...) My favorite part of having all these great characters is the banter and the trash talk, especially in the later chapters when the big fish come out. Even the annoying characters have their charm...

4) Finally, it has to be said that the MC himself is pretty great. He's definitely more mature and interesting than most protagonists I've read about. It's a bit hard to describe him, but the way he deals with Sleeping Moon in the early chapters is one of the greatest marks of his personality. If the character were more immature he'd be focused on getting revenge and "saving face"; if the character were colder he'd just ignore everything and go solo lone wolf. But Ye Xiu? He's self-assured, but not arrogant - forgiving because he's there's no point in getting riled - but canny enough to calmly wring out advantages for himself even in seemingly bad situations. The main point is that things don't just fall in Ye Xiu's lap, he works for it and makes things happen the way he wants through experience, knowledge, or just plain old haggling. Of course, the universe doesn't revolve around his decisions, so it's always fun to read about how he has to tunnel his way through the ever-growing mess he's accidentally created for himself.

If you enjoy the concept of MMOs, gaming, and/or esports, I definitely recommend this! <<less
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The Founder of Diabolism
September 7, 2017
Status: c21
Founder of Diabolism is a humorous horror-mystery story set in a xianxia world. Intriguingly, the story has absolutely no cultivation (as the main cast are all high level cultivators) and instead focuses on a series of thrilling horror/mystery-solving subplots in which the protagonist, Wei WuXian, secretly uses his extensive occult knowledge to save people from evil spirits and bloodthirsty horrors whilst hiding his true identity. The story is similar to the Detective Conan series if Conan Edogawa were a slandered and vilified Chinese cultivator who had been killed and brought... more>> back to life in another body.

I highly recommend Founder of Diabolism to anyone who appreciates good writing, well-developed characters, mystery/detective stories, knee-slapping humor, and heart-aching romance. As of chapter 21 the main overarching focus of Founder of Diabolism is on the unraveling of the mystery behind the protagonist, Wei WuXian's, past and motivations. In the prologue we learn that he had been betrayed and killed and that the world is glad for it, as he had been an evil and tyrannical man who had gone down the path of devils. Yet when Wei WuXian returns from the dead, we meet a man who is altogether one of the most clever, curious, humorous, and altogether likeable protagonists of any Chinese novel.

Mystery is the strongest component of Founder of Diabolism. The author raises many questions with tantalizing possibilities. Why was Wei WuXian cast as an evil villain by society? Why had he been betrayed by his most trusted people? Why does he feel guilt upon seeing the arrogant child Ji Ling, and why does his former brother despise him? Though the main cast had all lived harmoniously together as schoolchildren in differing sects, why are they now so fragmented and conflicting as adults? All of these major character questions are slowly answered as the author travels through minor horror-mystery scenes involving zombies, haunted hands, and more.

A second component which I see as vitally important and incredibly well-done is the romance. Though as of ch21 the author has only laid the foundation and revealed a hint of a particular character's motivations, the various clues are enough to make me imagine the pain and tragedy this character had faced upon the protagonist's death, and the tumultuous emotions he must have now that he believes the protagonist has somehow returned despite Wei WuXian's best efforts to hide all traces of his reincarnated self.

What I will praise the author for most is their incredibly clever and loving development of the characters. The protagonist has a deep depth of personality - Wei WuXian on the surface, a carefree and comedic playboy; deeper, an intelligent and far-too-curious experimenter; and finally, a troubled man with a deeply-hidden loyalty and devotion to his loved ones that has transformed into guilt as a result of whatever incidents had lead to his death. The supporting characters are all people who had one way or another been affected by Wei WuXian's death, and the author cleverly does not tell the readers. Rather, the author weaves between the past and present, point A to point D in time, to let the reader analyze how the characters' relationships and emotions had changed in the unspoken time between these two points.

Vital personal information regarding the main cast is revealed in this 'trip to the past', but it still stretched quite long when what I wanted as the reader was to return to seeing Wei WuXian figure out how to escape his current predicament. This is the only time that I felt the pacing in the story was off, and my only criticism.

Founder of Diabolism has 5/5 writing style, 5/5 plot, 5/5 character development, 5/5 creativity, and 4.5/5 pacing.
Additional notes: Translation quality by Exiled Rebels is excellent and fluid, with natural and clear sentences which convey the author's vibrant writing style and witty dialogue.
Overall, if this were to be published, I would buy it in a heartbeat.
If you've read this review in the end, please just go and start reading the story! <<less
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The Reader and Protagonist Definitely Have to Be in True Love
September 7, 2017
Status: c17.1
Ch17.1 may be too early to judge the quality of this story, but here are my thoughts.

The Reader and the Protagonist Definitely Have to Be in True Love has a gripping premise of a reader being sucked into the world of a web novel in order to change its story. It promises to be an epic love story between the reader who adores the 'cute/meng' protagonist, and the sullied, broken protagonist. The story revolves around the premise that the protagonist's fate of suffering was caused by the reader, Du Ze,... more>> trolling the author so much that the author decided 'Fine, if you think this story is so bad, I'll make it bad'. And so, the web novel which should have been about an all-powerful harem-getting protagonist instead ended up with the protagonist betrayed and crushed by all of his friends and lovers.

There are several points which led me to not enjoy this story:
1. The timeline. This may simply be my lack of reading comprehension, but... well, it's very confusing. How much of the story is already written? How far did the protagonist get in his quest to unlock the 8 races of blood in his body before awakening his undead Lich blood and being betrayed and blackened? If this was the most recent development in the story (as it seemed to be since Du Zhe had been trying to encourage the author to write more after the author had flipped on the story) then how the heck does Du Zhe know so much about the other elements of the story to the point of pretending to be a prophet? And if the undead Lich blood was one of the first ones to awaken then how was there so much happening before that point to warrant an entire book being published and doujinshi being made? I really don't understand this.

2. The main leads have no chemistry, and they themselves have no charm points. As of ch17.1 the story has already left its cardinal promise unfulfilled: I, the reader, have not fallen in love with the protagonist. Du Zhe started promisingly with the idea of a rotten-mouthed but sweet-hearted character that uses insults to attract the attention of his beloved (author), but come the actual plot events and he becomes a wooden block. Add to that, the protagonist has no personality. He has the generic Personality Switch Set that comes with a standard BL seme. Switch 1: He is cold and tortures others. Switch 2: He is extremely possessive and thinks his love interest is only his (to torture/kill/love?). These two characters don't talk to each other beyond extremely bland dialogue about information exchange. If you set two rocks next to each other in a garden, that's the kind of interaction these two characters have. Du Zhe has told us many many times that "the protagonist is so meng/cute!" "So meng!" Yet where do we see that in the first chapters? Never. Actually, only in the author's notes at the end. The little noncanon skits were the closest I got to liking the protagonist.

What could save this is if Du Zhe had any sort of attraction to the protagonist, but of course this has to be a "wolf chases the rabbit" scenario where the protagonist falls first, for whatever reason. While we see all of Du Zhe's inner ramblings and personality, all the protagonist sees is basically a robot that lets him torture it and protects him with its own body. Is Du Zhe even human? Why exactly does the protagonist come to love him? Only in the latest translated chapters do we see the revealings of vulnerability in Du Zhe that could potentially lead to romance, but the protagonist immediately leaps to a selfishly obsessive possession. The author has not laid any proper foundation for a believable romantic relationship at this point of time, and so I am greatly unsatisfied.

3. Story and plot pacing. I get the impression that this story is written on the fly without any planning, as it jumps from one event to the next while padded with Du Zhe's panicked inner reactions. We get little sense of location and setting, despite the extremely detailed backstory of the novel. Rather, the world and its obstacles act more like a glass dome backdrop around the two protagonists as they are inevitably meshed together as a couple due to the fact that this is a BL novel. Perhaps this will change when more characters are introduced and the protagonist is forced to confront his past.

Since this story continues on for many more chapters with good reviews I am hopeful that the writer becomes more experienced and can successfully tie together all of the disparate elements that they have left undeveloped. Unfortunately, I think that they started this story with fatal flaws regarding the two main characters' personality attributes. In my opinion, I think this story would have been more interesting if it had been about the Reader and the Author's love, as at least there we had seen some effort on Du Zhe's part to chase the author, and the author's response to Du Zhe. For this story to be saved and for me to consider that the reader and protagonist are in true love, the protagonist has to start earnestly caring for the reader as more than just "a thing that belongs to him".

In any case, I give it 3 stars because it has potential and is well-translated. Overall, the story has an interesting premise but lacking execution. <<less
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Ars
Quite good so far; translation quality is excellent, the characters have a solid base to start with. The premise is unique and the reader can already see all of the mounting problems that the MC will eventually discover and face. The story is still in its early stages but I appreciate the interaction between the narrator and his two little OP-to-be brothers; the introductory chapter also shows great humor.

It's a fresh perspective on xianxia with the addition of an unusual BL pairing. We'll see how the addition of one new... more>> character will topple the foundations of a classic xianxia story, eventually saving the world with the power of love... or something like that. Very much looking forward to reading more. <<less
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I reincarnated but I think the Prince (Fiance) has Given Up is nothing stellar, but may satisfy your immediate cravings for self-aware otomegame villainesses. The target audience is very young - say, 10~17 years old, and you may be able to enjoy it. If you're older than that or if you've read enough stories to know what you like and don't like, this one will most likely fall into the "don't like" category.

For a light novel, the prose can be considered on the average side. It has enough setting, backstory,... more>> and description to give you a firm understanding of where the story takes place and what's going on. The pacing goes a bit fast and skips a lot of introspection and build-up. For plot and action purposes that makes things easier to read, but the characters and their personalities greatly suffer.

The female lead (villainess) is decently likeable - after regaining her memories she reflects on her previous actions and amends them in order to protect her integrity as a person. The antagonist (heroine) is also decent in her role of instigating trouble and forcing the scenarios to march on. They aren't given enough time to think to go beyond their tropes, but they're effective enough to carry the story forward.

The problem of this story lies in the male lead, who is accidentally written to be an extremely flawed, shallow, and lustful man. He avoided his fiance, Christine, after she started trying to impress him by dressing up, but once she regained her memories and started looking at him as if she wanted to break down in tears, he immediately regains interest in her and starts teasing her. Evidently, he doesn't care at all about what she's feeling or going through, but instead just likes how she looks when she's sad and insecure. The more depressed she gets, the more excited he becomes.

Furthermore, every other line he speaks is some incredibly cringy attempts at flirting that attempt to sound cool and heart-thumping, but instead come off as crass. After reading so many doujins and web novels you'd think I'd have built up a resistance to poorly-written dialogue, but Prince Alberto is simply too powerful. Examples:

Spoiler

"You are such a bad girl, Christina. Doing such mischief, showing me such face, are you doing it on purpose?"

"You are such a bad girl..... To trouble me like this"

"If you keep on being so cute..... sooner or later, I'll eat you, you know..... ?"

[collapse]

The main things he does in the story is 1) molest Christina 2) flirt with Clara, so I'm not sure what his appeal is as a person or as a love interest.

If you're on the younger side, this kind of story may be fresh and new enough to excite you - but once you've read better-written villainess stories, or better-written smut, then I Reincarnated, but (etc) just falls flat. If you've read this story and enjoyed it, power to you, because I wish I could have as well. <<less
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The Legendary Master’s Wife
September 7, 2017
Status: c232
The strength of Legendary Master's Wife is actually as a xuanhuan novel. It's on par with many mid-tier xianxia/xuanhuan novels with well-developed setting, lots of cultivating, face-slapping, finding treasures, leaving the nest (sect) to greater adventures, etc. However, the author is also very focused on developing the relationship between You Xiaomo (protagonist) and Ling Xiao (main love interest and also You Xiaomo's second golden finger, let's be honest...). As such, this novel satisfies the reader's desire to see the protagonist You Xiaomo develop and bloom into strength as a pill-making... more>> mage while also capturing (being captured, more like) the male lead.

What I particularly like about this novel is that there are many notably likeable side characters. The author doesn't attempt to make everyone an arrogant pin for the protagonist to slap. Instead, they include many neutral, friendly, and unfriendly characters that have their own little arcs. It's an extra bit of care often left out in other Chinese novels.

Because this story stands on its own legs as a xuanhuan cultivator tale with the an epic-length plot, the fact that it is also unabashedly a danmei/BL novel makes it a one-of-a-kind star. BL/GL novels are notorious for being romance-focused with only small trimmings of plot around the characters, so I'm extremely thankful to s3ri for being the first to translate this novel with excellent quality... even without knowing Chinese... honestly, how amazing is that?

As for flaws, LMW does have a lot. It suffers the same flaws and cliches as most xuanhuan: long power grinding, the protagonist getting a slew of advantages for no good reason, arrogant no-brain fools just begging to be faceslapped, and treasures falling from the sky. In the romance department, the character dynamic is the tried and true innocent rabbit vs voracious wolf that permeates both het and slash stories. However, the author does take care to flesh out the characters a bit so that the scenes remain fresh and interesting despite the well-worn personalities. LMW shows its age in how Ling Xiao forces You Xiaomo into the relationship despite You Xiaomo's confused misgivings. This was pretty much how many written romances in casual stories like manga, fanfics, web novels, etc. operated a decade ago, before society became more conscientious about consent in fiction.

Legendary Master's wife has 3.5/5 writing style, 3.5/5 plot, 3.5/5 character development, 4/5 creativity, and 5/5 pacing. The score is solidly above average. It's a typical xuanhuan, and a typical BL romance, but put them together and you've got something enjoyable that's made all the more precious by the fact that very few people have dared to write it before. (5 star for bias, as it's the only story to sate my cravings for cultivation and BL!) <<less
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To Be A Virtuous Wife
July 9, 2016
Status: --
To Be a Virtuous Wife is one of the top stories of the "I woke up in ancient China as a disadvantaged noblewoman" type, alongside the Mistaken Marriage Match series. The story has a sense of ease and flow made from a well-thought out progression and keen editing.

The MC's maturity and self-confidence make her truly virtuous; unlike most MCs in this genre, she isn't embroiled in some terrible life-or-death intrigue, and thus lives a normal life. She makes everything seem effortless, though the reader can obviously tell that a... more>> lesser woman would crumble in her position (as had the original owner of her body). The MC's careful handling of every situation defuses most potential drama sites before they can start, making for a beautiful slice of life void of the hair-tearing and contrived events that you come to expect in these kinds of stories.

When I first started reading, I dropped the story after spending a chapter with the male lead because he felt absolutely, dreadfully boring. I'm extremely glad that I picked this back up, though - the male lead's personality only shows later, when the MC actually spends time with him. What I like most about the male lead is his subtle intelligence and unstated court manipulations, as well as how his love for the MC develops as he learns her personality. I think this kind of romance is much more touching than the typical 'fell in love because she's pretty and maybe did some weird things' which I had come to expect.

All in all, this story is a must if you enjoy romance, Ancient China, and/or transmigration. It's also an excellent pick if you're looking for an intelligent and capable female lead. <<less
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Demon Wang’s Golden Favorite Fei
September 15, 2017
Status: c146
Demon Wang's Golden Favorite Fei is a feel-good read much like a serial TV show - lots of thrilling events and well-paced progression for when you're in the mood for light reading. It's not great in the beginning, but when the plot starts moving and the male lead is introduced, the momentum carries it to greater heights. This story is a cut above the average historical transmigrated novel in that the writing is solid, the romance is extremely satisfying, and the events and encounters are quite fresh with little if... more>> no recycled content (other than the premise).

This story starts incredibly abruptly with an overpowered main character right off the bat. Murong Qi Qi has already reached the pinnacle of physical, medical, and economic strength before the story begins, but surprisingly the author is still able to deftly present believable challenges and obstacles that the MC must overcome. Mainly, these obstacles relate to personal relationships, politics, and love, all areas that the MC has absolutely no foothold in. Thus, this story's main conflict revolves around Murong Qi Qi finally casting aside her 'useless' side while rising to power socially and politically, while also achieving one of the purest and healthiest romantic relationships in any transmigrated noblewoman story thus far.

The main hook for this story is the romance. The two leads genuinely come to care and love each other, demonstrating their thoughtfulness and affection with each step of the way. The author has a very generous heart for the hero characters, allowing them to find people whom they can love and trust with their whole beings. I appreciate that the male lead is, so far, the only male lead of all the novels I have read to actually demonstrate healthy respect for the female lead and her wishes. He cherishes the female lead, never wanting to make her uncomfortable, and waits until she returns his feelings before lavishing her with physical affection. It is so rare to find a male lead who respects the female lead's consent that this treatment has pushed my enjoyment of the story to the maximum.

The author is very clever about this, however, by including various foils to this healthy relationship. All of the villainous side characters demonstrate tragic or vile relationships as a result of them using each other or falling prey to terrible oppressors. The author clearly wants to contrast the typical imbalanced power relationships of this world with the singular equal and harmonious affection of the two leads. It is clear that the two leads only have this kind of beautiful relationship because of their mutual respect and trust. It's a very successful move that, beyond raising up the leads, also colors the tragedy of the side characters whose hopes were dashed by arrogance and greed.

Overall, Demon Wang's Golden Favorite Fei starts with the same basic premise of a typical transmigrated noblewoman story, but quickly branches away into original territory with a well-planned if somewhat soap opera-esque plot. The author clearly has goals in mind, having laid a deep foundation of setting and history for the sake of revealing plot twists and "aha!" moments. It's an enjoyable and fresh read that I would recommend if you enjoy interpersonal drama and romance. <<less
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A decent story to pick up if you're in the mood for transmigrated powerful female protagonists, but not one to eagerly wait for. As a plus, the quality of the translation is very good.

It starts with the introduction of several intriguing characters which, unfortunately, get ditched to the side as the author steamrolls the action forward at breakneck speeds. After one problem is resolved another immediately rises to take its place. Neither the reader nor the protagonist has any time to simply stop, breathe, and take in the situation. The... more>> pacing gives me the impression that the author simply wanted to throw the main character from one area to the next as quickly as possible at the cost of leaving behind unresolved problems and side characters whom the readers had just started to like. This seems to be one of those stories where the protagonist rapidly gains rare items and abilities to solve current problems, only to completely forget about them with the next set of obstacles - everything is directed by the author's whims, rather than any attempt to create a cohesive story. The first hundred or so chapters are entertaining enough, but I lost faith in the story after that. <<less
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Coiling Dragon
January 12, 2016
Status: --
Coiling Dragon, the first xianxia I ever finished reading!

Despite all its flaws, I give it 5 stars because I really think this epic is worth reading to the end, especially as an introduction to Chinese light novels. It has a remarkable, driven protagonist who doesn't waste much of his time on frivolous things, though that might just be because the author couldn't be bothered.

The worldbuilding is amazing, and I wish there were several dozens more books about journeys through all of the planes. The scale of the universe and the... more>> potential of all the unwritten adventures makes my mouth water for more! While the world of Coiling Dragon has probably been abandoned, I think there's enough material for an accomplished writer to create excellent spinoff stories which don't even need to interact with the original series.

I actually enjoyed many of the characters, especially the ones from the Yulan continent. Even though there are dozens of side characters, most of them have great potential and memorability (despite being forgotten in the story itself...). Despite having few scenes each, the side characters show a great variety of personalities and motives, so you can easily end up with a good handful of favorites.

Even if IET has forgotten you, I'm cheering for you, Black Scorpion! I hope you can reach Deity with your own hardworking power! <<less
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